So I wrote an email to Stephan Papa, who has been organizing and promoting Association Sunday (hereafter known as AS, not those other words) to ask why the UUA decided to have AS on Solidarity Sunday. Now, I've known Stephan for many years. He was the minister of First Universalist Church in Denver for almost 20 years and always had an encouraging word for us UU students at Iliff School of Theology, just down the street from First Univ. So I was pretty sure he wasn't going to give me the runaround, in answering my question.
I got a very prompt reply from him, apologizing for the oversight, acknowledging the need to get further input while giving the reasons and process involved in setting this year's date. In addition, he asked for my thoughts about next year's date. I had cced the note I'd sent him and Bill to my friend Keith Kron at the OBGLTC, and Stephan replied to all, so that Keith was able to respond as well, which he did.
I didn't ask permission of either Stephan or Keith to quote them, so I won't, but I was pleased with the non-defensive tone of Stephan's response and with the exchange generally. I have the sense, if not the guarantee, that next year this imposition will not occur or, if it does, the conflicting dates will be acknowledged and alternatives promoted in a thoughtful way.
The whole exchange was made even more satisfactory by the measured tones of the conflict. There were differing points of view, an opportunity for hurt feelings on both sides, an opportunity for defensive, angry accusations back and forth, and these elements did not surface at all. If they existed in anyone's mind, that person bit back angry words and took the high road.
I've been accused, over the time I've been blogging as Ms.Kitty, of coming on as Wisewoman and offering my opinions about proper blogging behavior in places where they're not welcome. I'm probably guilty as charged, but guilty of what?
Guilty of preferring a civil tone in our debates? Isn't that what we hope for in the civic and religious sphere, rather than charges and countercharges between human beings?
Guilty of preferring direct communication rather than snide remarks and sarcasm which seek to hurt, rather than to find common ground? In what universe is it okay to insult people who disagree with you?
Guilty of preferring non-defensive responses to critique, rather than rants about how terrible the critiquer is to disagree with the critiqued?
I'm not a particularly wise Wisewoman. I goof up all the time. But I have enough life experience and common sense to know that civil discourse with our dissenters is far more effective than sarcastic accusations and defensive reactions. That simply is not how the world works; diplomacy and a willingness to listen are essential behaviors in a world that is already too full of rage.
I'm likely to be accused of being uncivil, snide, and defensive in this post. I've tried very hard to remove accusatory language and to focus on my own understanding of the universe. My efforts won't satisfy everyone. But when I realized that my own joy in writing Ms. Kitty's had taken a serious hit because of the email sent by another, I needed to act to regain that joy.
I'm no Martin Luther, but here I stand.